Evacuee’s memories of happy life at Parham Park

Ron welcomed back to Parham Park by Lady Emma
Ron welcomed back to Parham Park by Lady Emma

A woman has penned a book about her husband’s experiences as an evacuee in the Second World War.

Ron Callon, who is now 90 years old, was one of a number of young people who came to be housed at Parham Park on September 1, 1939.

Ron and Beryl's wedding day

Ron and Beryl's wedding day

His wife, Beryl ‘Babs’ Callon, 87, began recording her husband’s memories of his childhood experiences 68 years ago. She used these notes to write But For the Sake of a Tiny Wasp, an illustrated account of Ron’s time in West Sussex, where he was sent as a youngster along with his five-year-old brother Len.

The brothers were two of the 30 evacuees were sent from Peckham in East End London to Parham Park in accordance with the Evacuation Programme of 1939.

Once in Pulborough, the two boys were placed in the care of The Hon Clive and Alicia Pearson, while their sisters, Lillian and Joan, were evacuated to Amberley.

Ron said: “Still I recall and relate with great fondness and gratitude the memories of my halcyon days as an evacuee at Parham Park. The memories of Parham Park and the Pearson family are not fleeting moments which occasionally enter my thoughts; they are a living part of me, a part which, throughout my life, has helped to strengthen and guide me in my most difficult times. With its unique atmosphere of surrounding peace and love, Parham is a very special place.”

During the Battle of Britain, young Ron spent many hours on the Downs watching the dog fights, once witnessing a German plane crash. He also stayed at Storrington and Bognor, before returning to London to stay with his Aunt Annie and Uncle Art. After his evacuee years, Ron came to Nottinghamshire to join his family who had been rehoused after the London Blitz. At the age of 17, Ron joined the army, shortly before meeting ‘Babs’ at a village hall dance. The two married in 1955. But For the Sake of a Tiny Wasp also tells the tragic story of Ron’s older brother Billy, who died at sea when HMS Hood was sunk in Denmark Strait in 1941.

Beryl said: “West Sussex has held a lifelong passion for my husband and your beautiful county has undoubtedly influenced the whole of his life. His memories of Parham remain vivid and his oft told tales have been, and continue to be, part of our family life. From childhood to present day, West Sussex and Parham have remained his ‘Paradise’. We continue to make regular visits to Parham to relate and share memories with Lady Emma, the great granddaughter of the Pearsons, and the present owner of the estate.”

In 2015 Lady Emma invited the whole family to Parham Park to celebrate Ron and Beryl’s Diamond Wedding.

Ron and Beryl have three daughters, who grew up listening to their father’s tales of his time in West Sussex. The couple also have six grandchildren and two great grandchildren, who are regularly told the stories. The Callons, who live in Nottinghamshire in a small country village called Barton in Fabis, celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary in August.

For The Sake of a Tiny Wasp can be purchased from www.troubador.co.uk, Waterstones, or from the Parham House gift shop.